Zias in precarious position after pair of losses

CNJ staff

PORTALES — Two weeks ago, the Eastern New Mexico University softball team appeared to be a virtual lock for one of four South Division berths in the upcoming Lone Star Conference tournament.

Now, after losing five of six in division play, the Zias are hanging on by a thread and probably need a sweep in today’s season-ending twin bill against the Javelinas plus some help to get in.

Texas A&M-Kingsville got shutout pitching from sophomore right-hander Nora Aguilar until the final inning of the nightcap and handed ENMU 8-0 and 6-4 losses on Friday at Zia Softball Field.

ENMU (27-27, 9-13 South) is now in a virtual tie for fourth in the division with Abilene Christian (24-23, 10-14), which has finished regular-season play, and Texas Woman’s (23-32, 9-13), which won at last-place West Texas A&M 5-2 and 8-2 on Friday and plays the Lady Buffs again today.

The Zias have a tiebreaker on ACU by virtue of a 3-1 series victory, but don’t have it on Texas Woman’s after losing three of four to the Pioneers last weekend.

The Javelinas (32-16, 15-7) had only eight baserunners in the opener, but all scored — they hit four home runs off Nicole Dickson (15-9), including two by right fielder Quesha Torres, in a game called after five on the eight-run rule.

Ma’lia Guerra led off the third with her first home run of the season. Then Joanna Dorado opened the fourth with a single, stole second and scored on Torres’ two-run shot to left-center.

Dorado belted a grand slam, her third homer of the season, with one out in the fifth to make it 7-0. Two batters later, Torres completed the scoring with her ninth homer of the year.

Aguilar (19-7) allowed only Valerie Villela’s first-inning double and Kristina Goodman’s two-out single in the third. She walked one and struck out five.

In the nightcap, the Javs did all their scoring in the fifth to break up a scoreless tie against ENMU freshman Kristen Cruickshank. The Zias committed six errors in the game, although only two of the runs were unearned.

Guerra had the key hit in that inning, a two-run double.

ENMU, which had only three hits through six innings, finally broke through in the seventh when second baseman Rebecca Quinones led off with her fourth home run of the season and catcher Michelle Anderson followed with a double to chase Aguilar.

Cruickshank reached on an error, and Alex Mayo Otis drove in a run with an infield hit. Other runs scored on an error and a fielder’s choice, and Villela walked with two out to load the bases.

Aguilar then came back in and got Quinones, the 10th batter of the inning, on a grounder to short to end it.